Meet Mi Kun Chan Non.
Mi Kun is the Vice Chairwoman of the Mon Women’s Organization (MWO), and is an avid advocate for women’s participation in peace processes. Mi Kun works to empower Burmese women through information sharing and skills development.
For over a decade, Mi Kun has delivered leadership training to marginalized Mon women living in impoverished communities along the Thai-Burma border. Her grassroots workshops focus on the importance of involving more women in decision-making and leadership roles within the Mon community and within government. By providing women with the skills and confidence to lead, Mi Kun is hopeful that women will challenge tradition and custom—and demand opportunities to take leadership in their communities.
Mi Kun leads by example. Following the signing of a desperately needed ceasefire agreement between the Burmese government and ethnic Karen rebels in January 2012, Mi Kun seized an opportunity to be involved in the peace negotiations. She assumed the role of observer for the April 2012 peace negotiations, and found herself to be one of very few women in the room. As negotiations between the government and the New Mon State Party unfolded throughout 2012, the voices of women would continue to be drowned out by men’s.
Mi Kun attributes the lack of women at the peace table to the glass ceiling that women encounter in Burma. Tradition, customs and attitudes prevent women from assuming leadership roles and in turn prevent them from bringing women’s issues to the attention of decision makers. Mi Kun urges the Burmese government to commit to purposefully include women in critical policy discussions as they bring a unique and necessary perspective.
Mi Kun is encouraged by the transformation of women who receive leadership training. “Women are changing because of our movement,” says Mi Kun.